Ask Matt: Are Guest Hosts Good for ‘Jeopardy!’?
Welcome to the Q&A with TV critic — also known to some TV fans as their “TV therapist” — Matt Roush, who’ll try to address whatever you love, loathe, are confused or frustrated or thrilled by in today’s vast TV landscape. (We know background music is too loud, but there’s always closed-captioning.)
One caution: This is a spoiler-free zone, so we won’t be addressing upcoming storylines here unless it’s already common knowledge. Please send your questions and comments to [email protected] (or use the form at the end of the column) and follow me on Twitter (@TVGMMattRoush). Look for Ask Matt columns on many Tuesdays and Fridays.
Should Jeopardy! Keep Using Guest Hosts?
Question: I think Jeopardy! should stick with the guest hosts because no one will be Alex Trebek and will be compared to him forever. I have been watching more to see how the guest hosts are doing. Do you think the producers are thinking about that option? — Dawn E
Matt Roush: I won’t presume to know what the producers are thinking, because they’ve kept the process quite close to the vest — and as I write this, I’m expecting an announcement at any time, since production on a new season will have to start soon. But one thing I’m fairly certain of is that this experiment with the guest hosts was more about completing the season with as much dignity as possible in the wake of Alex Trebek’s untimely death, and that keeping the guest-host rotation going beyond this season would result in precisely the opposite of what the show and Alex stand for: for the contestants to be the stars of the show. Continually bringing in new guest hosts would likely pull focus, even when they try to make it about the players. While it’s true the new full-time host will be stepping into a formidable shadow, I contend that the show itself is the star, and if the new host honors the Jeopardy! tradition, even the most critical and unforgiving fans will eventually get aboard.
Curses to Hallmark for Dropping Their Witch
Question: I just found out that they are canceling The Good Witch on Hallmark Channel. What’s up with that? It is a good show and I have watched it from the beginning. I read that it went down in who’s watching it, but I can’t understand why that would mean canceling. We have so many rotten TV shows and they stay on season after season, but this is a good one and so they end it. Sad for sure. Thanks for letting me vent. It will be missed. — Kim L
Matt Roush: I’m hearing quite a bit about this now that the deed is done. The real surprise here is not that Hallmark canceled a show after seven seasons — and if you count the TV movies dating back even longer, something like a 13-year run. What’s most aggravating about this decision is that it seemed to have been made so late in the game, without giving the show or the Good Witch fans a chance to take advantage of a victory lap or final-season publicity. Declining ratings were likely a contributing factor in what appears to be a business and economic decision, but still, to announce the show was toast with only a few episodes remaining felt like a low blow. In happier news, stars including Catherine Bell and James Denton remain attached to the channel, and there’s reason enough to hope that The Good Witch might eventually revert to its TV-movie format, though it may be a while before anything happens on that front.
Now You See Serengeti, Now You Don’t
Comment: I watched the two-hour premiere of Serengeti last Sunday (July 18) on Discovery. I see that subsequent episodes were listed in TV Guide Magazine, but no further episodes show up on my DVR program listings. Are the final four episodes only going to air on Discovery+? I would have watched the premiere even if I knew in advance that I couldn’t see all the episodes, but I’m really getting tired of the bait-and-switch: Watch the premiere of this wonderful new show, but if you want to see more, you’re going to have to pay for it. I wanted to keep up with my Serengeti friends and see how they are faring, but I guess it’s not meant to be. This even seems to be a trend with network TV now, and it’s a real turnoff. I’m not going to watch four episodes of SEAL Team only to be left stranded. It seems like TV is going to be only for the rich in the future. Will network TV end up being nothing but game shows and reality programs? — Beverly
Matt Roush: Funny (though not really funny) that you should end on that note. On the same day I saw your complaint, this came in from JC: “This is my prediction on the future of network TV. All original scripted TV shows will be shown on the various streaming services and the only thing shown on network TV will be reality shows and game shows. From what I can see, we’re heading right in that direction.”
This trend seems especially acute during a summer when the networks pretty much gave up on trying anything scripted, and the flood of game shows, in particular, has been overwhelming. (The influx of cheap and crap reality is about on par with past years.) But of course, scripted TV isn’t going away. During the regular season, dramas and comedies will continue to co-exist with reality TV and game shows, which are obviously cheaper ways to fill some of the hours. But the more adventurous scripted fare — say, anything that doesn’t have a crime-fighting acronym in the title — will be more and more likely to head to the networks’ streaming partners. (As I’ll say repeatedly: The digital/streaming revolution is the most significant shift in TV viewing and distribution since cable TV took hold, and these companies all see streaming as their future, which is why cord-cutting is such a thing.)
That said, Discovery’s handling of Serengeti was very poor form. Nothing about the way the new season launched indicated that only the first two episodes would appear on Discovery, but it has been confirmed that the remainder of the episodes are currently available only on discovery+. I have recently noticed, though, that several series that premiered on Discovery’s streaming platform are beginning to show up on the linear mothership — which is another confusing trend of the streamers premiering shows early, then putting them on the traditional channels later. (Or in the case of AMC, giving subscribers a week’s jump on when episodes of shows like The Walking Dead premiere on regular cable.) So it’s possible, though not yet confirmed (because they’d rather not address it) that Serengeti may yet air in its entirety on Discovery sometime in the future.
The MIA Remnants from WGN
Question: Has Almost Paradise found another home? Will we get a Season 2? I loved this show and all its characters. Christian Kane is so much fun to watch! And has Carter been renewed? Will we get another season? I really hate that WGN America decided to change to an all-news format and left us hanging with some of our favorite shows in limbo. — Kay
Matt Roush: No word on either of these shows going back into production. And with Carter having been dark since 2019 and Christian Kane now attached to the reboot of Leverage on IMDb TV (where, by coincidence, Almost Paradise is currently streaming), it seems unlikely we would see more of either of these — and if they were renewed, who knows where they’d end up. (Cable outlets getting out of the original programming business is another trend that’s going to hasten the flight to streaming, just saying.)
How to Fix Kevin
Comment: I agree with you that Kevin Can F**k Himself is not executed well while the premise is interesting. The whole problem is the husband is so awful that half of the episode is unbearable. In all of those husband-vs.-wife sitcoms, the wives do push back. I think if the writers had made Kevin more like the husbands in the sitcoms they are playing off — bumbling, sometimes boorish, but deep down a good guy and forgiven in the end, Ralph Kramden being the most classic version — then it would be very interesting and complicated to watch the harried wife plot the buffoon’s death! I would find that immensely interesting to watch. — Mike
Matt Roush: That’s an interesting point, that if you had even the slightest empathy or interest in Kevin as a human being and not as a purposefully repulsive cartoon caricature of a bad sitcom lead, the show might have a better chance of working. The fact that he’s so stupid and gross that he’s neither malignant nor sympathetic makes it impossible to care what happens. But we’ll give the last word for now to Nan, who wrote in response to our last discussion of the subject by declaring: “I agree completely with you about Kevin — can’t waste my time on it.”
That’s all for now. We can’t do this without your participation, so please keep sending questions and comments about TV to [email protected] or shoot me a line on Twitter (@TVGMMattRoush), and you can also submit questions via the handy form below. (Please include a first name with your question.)